The curse of the broccoli casseroles

I wonder what makes people give the gifts they do. When someone gives me a scented candle, are they telling me my house stinks? And why would they give me a Mango/Kiwi/Dirty Sock-scented candle?

There are only a couple of reasons. The first is that they had a sale at the candle store: Buy one regular candle and get the Mango/Kiwi/Dirty Sock candle free. Or maybe they think that special candle would somehow improve the smell of my house. You have to sit and scratch your head at such gift. I should have been nominated for an Oscar when I gave the acceptance speech.

But sometimes, I get myself in trouble when I make a big deal about things I don’t like. Years ago, I was doing a revival meeting in a small country church. In the early days of my ministry, it was customary that the visiting evangelist be taken to a farmer’s house for lunch every day. Now Farmer Fred, who had been out in the field all morning bailing hay and tossing hogs around, would come to the house hungrier than a junkyard dog. So the spread these people put on would put any modern buffet to shame. They didn’t have bowls of mashed potatoes but mountains of fluffy, white potatoes with a stick of butter flowing down like lava.

The pile of meat would fulfill your need for protein for an entire year. And the desserts were evil: One bite and you would break all 10 Commandments.

But in between the potatoes, meat and desserts were casseroles. I don’t believe casseroles came to the table until after the fall of man. When we get to Heaven, the Bible says, there will be a tree bearing 12 kinds of fruits for us to eat (Revelation 22:2). But they won’t be all scrambled up into some type of fruit casserole.

On this particular day, the women were bragging about the farmer’s wife’s broccoli casserole. She had grown her own heads of broccoli from tiny seeds and picked them just that morning. She was also known for the best broccoli casserole in three counties, so everyone was pressuring me to try it.

When it comes to food, there are only two things I don’t like. The first is broccoli. I have never liked broccoli, I will never like broccoli and broccoli isn’t even good enough to make it into Heaven. (I if I understand the Bible correctly, no vegetable is good enough). And second, I don’t like casseroles. But that day, everyone kept pressuring me to try her broccoli casserole, so I put a little on my plate and choked down a bite.

That night at church, I bragged on Sister Farmer’s famous broccoli casserole and how it was the best one I had ever tasted. Now, I wasn’t not lying since 1. I had never eaten a broccoli casserole before and 2. I could have said it was the worst and I still wouldn’t been lying. All the ladies were nodding their heads in agreement.

But the next day, as I entered another house for our luncheon, the wife pulled me into the kitchen and said, “I know Sister Farmer makes the best broccoli casserole, but I pride myself on mine, too. Would you taste it and see how they compare?” She handed me a big spoon with the vile stuff heaped upon it and said, “Try a bite.” Somehow, I managed to choke it down as I had done the day before.

Now, I was in a dilemma. I knew Sister Farmer No. 2 was expecting me to say something about her casserole in the service that night. Trying to be diplomatic, I told the congregation, “I have never been in a church were the ladies made such outstanding broccoli casseroles.”

You can guess what happened over the next five days. I couldn’t wait to get out of that town. I even thought about praying that I would get food poisoning and have to miss lunch. Since that day, I have never, ever touched either a casserole or a piece of broccoli.

Which of the five senses is the strongest for you? For me, it’s the sense of smell. The scent of homemade bead takes me back to my grandparents’ house, full of sweet memories. The scent of pine reminds me of Christmas, and how about the smell of bacon, freshly mown grass or lavender?

Did you know the apostle Paul told us we, too, have a special scent if we are followers of Christ? He reminded the Corinthians of this truth: “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:15a).

I just pray that my life is the not Mango/Kiwi/Dirty Sock kind.